First my apologies to anyone who has looked in over the last couple of weeks - I'll claim pressure of work for a fortnight ago and disappointment of going to to watch City at Blackburn for last week. This week we are back for the best or parables - you could preach this every week and find something different - today is influenced by Mother's Day and a number of recent deaths.
Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32A Story of Loss.Lost - mother, son, brother, relationships, ambition, innocence, pride, dignity, wealth, childrenThis Week - Phyllis, our loss of a good friend - her sadness at the loss of contact with son & grandchildren has made Mother's Day a sad day in her calendar- Harry's memorial service - another long life well lived - died suddenly on the far side of the world.- Isaac - stillborn child of Anthony and Samantha - holding Isaac, talking about a funeral and how they can live without him - a loss whose pain most of us can not imagine - but a loss a few of you have also experience, and continue to live with.God - knows such loss - this story tells of God’s children wishing God dead and breaking away - losing inheritance, innocence, relationship, failed ambition, broken lives - Gospel is Jesus - God’s son being sent into a broken world - and lost to lonely death.God knows the loss Phyliss has lived with, God knows the loss Samantha and Anthony know at this time and will know as they move through life, God knows the loss you are facing at this time.A Story of GraceNot left there - in the midst of despair, grief, loss - story of Grace - not repentance - Father/Parent never stops loving, he waits, watching, expecting, hoping, - and the child returns - one who has lost everything, except his readiness to deal - no time, no opportunity - rushing, celebrating, welcoming - no deals - just Grace.However lost we may be, however far we have travelled, whatever pain we carry, - God welcomes the lost children and throws a party for everyone.Let us come to God as lost children and know grace.
I often have Quick fix temptations - usually when trying to fund a project, or looking at the church accounts - I could do the lottery, win a couple of millions - use it for a whole host of good causes.
We live in a quick fix world - want it have it - instant credit (or don’t pay for 9 months and then credit!) in debt - just re-arrange the loans - you have a bad image - quick makeover everything is right - TV on demand - we wait for nothing - there’s no time.
Jesus is offered a quick fix kingdom
- hungry? - turn this stone into bread - you can do it, so why not?
- kingdom? - here have all the power and authority you want - payment? well a little worship - but your worth it!
- doubts? - quick experiment -if it is true - everyone will know the truth and if not - well, it’s a quick death - no long lingering crucifiction.
But, God’s salvation plan is mapped out through the whole of human history - from the first relationship in the garden of Eden, to the Exodus from Egypt - a story that the people are to tell and re-tell - thanks for the past and hope for the future - the people are to trust, be faithful that the God way - the way of the cross, the way of rejection and suffering, the way of real relationship not quick fix protection - is the way of truth, the way to real salvation.
“Taking the long way round” - Dixie Chicks - rejected and hated by the people who had proclaimed love for them - they have taken time to make sense of that, discover a new world and new audience - and it has brought success
Mandela I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.It helps, now and then, to step backand take the long view.The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is beyond our vision......We are prophets of a future not our own.Amen.
"Heading for deep water"Luke 5:1-11A discipleship story in which there is no call - movement from the safety of the shore to the uncertainty of deep water. There is no command to fish for people - but a promise that they will be caught.The crowd are on the shore - they want to hear Jesus from safety, from a place where they can choose to come and go - no commitment, little input. Jesus teaches, heals, doesn’t seem overly concerned that for most of the crowd it is just entertainment.He gathers a few around him and they push off shore - the crowd can be addressed better and those few become more committed - they need to get their feet wet in order to leave - but Jesus is one step removed from the crowd - no longer an entertainment.The small group move into deep water - they are now committed to one another, a long way from the shore and the crowd. Here, Jesus reveals his full power - Simon’s epiphany - takes him from skepticism to wonder to the realisation of his own sinfulness to a new sense of purpose - and a promise he will catch people - not a command a promise. And there will be too much work to do, so others will come to help and there will still be too much work to do - we are in deep water, without lifeboats, but do not be afraid.Opportunity to catch people in deep water. We are exploring the possibility of providing a Chaplaincy to the town centre - the town centre management and the council are very keen that we do so, we are unsure where the resources will come from - we need people to be part of a management team, perhaps they will bring business and administrative skills and we need someone with the time and ability (without at this stage being paid) to be the main Chaplain, mainly available for those working in the retail sector, negotiating access with individual store managers and others to support. Pray for this project, pray that the people we need will emerge, and if you can hear Jesus telling you to cast out your nets then do not be afraid, step forward and offer yourself.